American Journal of Microbiological Research, 2014, Vol. 2, No.

1, 16-23
Available online at http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajmr/2/1/3
©Science and Education Publishing
DOI:10.12691/ajmr-2-1-3
Microbial Degradation and Decolorization of Reactive
Dyes by Bacillus Spp. ETL-1979
Maulin P Shah
*
, Kavita A Patel, Sunu S Nair, A M Darji
Industrial Waste Water Research Laboratory, Applied & Environmental Microbiology Lab, Enviro Technology Limited (CETP),
Gujarat, India
*Corresponding author: shahmp@uniphos.com
Received August 28, 2013; Revised November 01, 2013; Accepted January 22, 2014
Abstract A bacterial strain ETL-1979, identified as Bacillus spp. was isolated fromactivated sludge of textile
wastewater treatment plant in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, India. Azo dyes constitute the largest and most versatile class of
synthetic dyes. Biological decolorization of azo dyes occurs efficiently under low oxygen to anaerobic conditions.
However, this process results in the formation of toxic and carcinogenic amines that are resistant to further
detoxification under low oxygen conditions. Moreover, the ability to detoxify these amines under aerobic conditions
is not a wide spread metabolic activity. In this study we describe the use of Bacillus spp. ETL-1979, isolated from an
activated sludge process of a textile company, for the sequential decolorization and detoxification of the azo dyes
Reactive Yellow 107, Reactive Black 5, Reactive Red 198 and Direct Blue 71. Tyrosinase activity was observed
during the biotreatment process suggesting the role of this enzyme in the decolorization and degradation process, but
no-activity was observed for laccase and peroxidase. Toxicity, measured using Daphnia magna, was completely
eliminated.
Keywords: Bacillus, Reactive Yellow, Reactive Black, Reactive Red, decolorization
Cite This Article: Maulin P Shah, Kavita A Patel, Sunu S Nair, and A M Darji, “Microbial Degradation and
Decolorization of Reactive Dyes by Bacillus Spp. ETL-1979.” American Journal of Microbiological Research,
vol. 2, no. 1 (2014): 16-23. doi: 10.12691/ajmr-2-1-3.
1. Introduction
Textile industry is one of the oldest industries in India
with over 1000 industries. Taking into account the volume
and composition of effluent, the textile wastewater is rated
as the most polluting among all in the industrial sectors. In
general, the wastewater from a typical textile industry is
characterized by high values of BOD, COD, color and pH.
It is a complex and highly variable mixture of many
polluting substances ranging from inorganic compounds
and elements to polymers and organic products. [43].
Reactive dyes, including many structurally different dyes,
are extensively used in the textile industry because of their
wide variety of color shades, high wet fastness profiles,
ease of application, brilliant colors, and minimal energy
consumption. The three most common groups are azo,
anthroquinone and phthalocyanine [44,45]. The textile
finishing generates a large amount of waste water
containing dyes and represents one of the largest causes of
water pollution [32]. Azo dyes have been used
increasingly in industries because of their ease and cost
effectiveness in synthesis compared to natural dyes.
However, most azo dyes are toxic, carcinogenic and
mutagenic [33,34]. Environmental pollution has been
recognized as one of the major hazard of the modern
world. Due to rapid industrialization, lot of chemicals
including dyes manufactured and used in day to day life
[36]. Dyes usually have a synthetic origin and complex
aromatic molecular structures which make them more
stable and more difficult to biodegrade [1]. Approximately
10,000 different dyes and pigments are used industrially
and over 0.7 million tons of synthetic dyes are produced
annually, worldwide. The three most common groups of
dyes are azo, anthraquinone and phthalocyanine [5], most
of which are toxic and carcinogenic. Disposal of these
dyes into the environment causes serious damage, since
they may significantly affect the photosynthetic activity of
hydrophytes by reducing light penetration and also toxic
to aquatic organisms due to their break down products
[2,20]. One of the most pressing environmental problems
related to dye effluents is the improper disposal of waste
water from dyeing industry [23]. Traditional methods for
the cleanup of azo dyes in the textile waste water usually
involve the removal of unwanted materials through
sedimentation, filtration and subsequent chemical
treatments such as flocculation, neutralization and electro-
dialysis before disposal. These processes may not
guarantee the treatment of toxic dye in the effluent.
Moreover, considering the volume of wastes released
during the industrial production process these are often
laborious and expensive [19]. Over the past decades,
biological decolorization has been investigated as a
method to transform, degrade or mineralize azo dyes [6].
A number of microorganisms have been found to be able
to decolorize textile dyes including bacteria, fungi, and
yeasts [37]. They have developed enzyme systems for the

American Journal of Microbiological Research 17
decolorization and mineralization of azo dyes under
certain environmental conditions [38]. Several methods
are used in the treatment of textile effluents to achieve
decolorization but they have many disadvantages and
limitations [15]. Biological processes provide alternative
technologies that are more cost effective and
environmentally friendly [3]. Many microorganisms
belonging to the different taxonomic groups of bacteria
have been reported for their ability to decolorize azo dyes
[14]. Rapid industrialization has necessitated the
manufacture and use of different chemicals in day to day
life [44]. Reactive dyes, including many structurally
different dyes, are extensively used in the textile industry
because of their wide variety of color shades, high wet
fastness profiles, ease of application, brilliant colors, and
minimal energy consumption. The three most common
groups are azo, anthroquinone and phthalocyanine [43].
The present study mainly focused on the degradation of
four reactive azo dyes in a successive static/aerobic
process using, exclusively, a Bacillus spp ETL-1979
isolated from a textile dye wastewater treatment plant.
Dye decolorization was carried out under static conditions
until no color was observed. The medium was then aerated
by stirring to promote further degradation of the
metabolites formed by cleavage of the azo bond into non-
toxic metabolites. Tyrosinase, laccase and peroxidase
enzyme activities as well as total organic carbon (TOC)
were monitored during the biodegradation process.
Biodegradation of the dyes was monitored for
decolorization by UV–vis and degradation products were
characterized using HPLC-MS. The effect of biotreatment
on toxicity was evaluated using Daphnia magna the test
organism.
2. Materials & Methods
2.1. Chemicals and Culture Medium
The azo dyes Reactive Yellow 107, Reactive Red 198,
Reactive Black 5, and Direct Blue 71 were kindly
provided as a gift. All other reagents were analytical grade
and purchased from Sigma and used without further
purification. Mineral salts medium (MM), pH 7 was
prepared as previously described (Franciscon et al. 2009a,
2009b). To evaluate the effect of different carbon sources
on dye decolorization MM was supplemented with the
indicated amounts of glucose, sodium pyruvate and/or
yeast extract, and 100 mg/L of dye. The highest degree
and rate of decolorization occurred using MM
supplemented with 3g/l glucose and 1g/l pyruvate, and
this medium was used for all subsequent biodegradation
experiments and was designated MM rich mineral
medium (MMR). Strain isolation and characterization
Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 was isolated from activated
sludge obtained from the Textile Company, Ankleshwar,
India. Serial dilutions (10
-1
to 10
-6
) of the sludge were
inoculated by the spread plate technique onto Nutrient
Agar plates containing azo dyes (100 mg L
-1
) and
incubated under low oxygen conditions. Bacillus spp.
ETL-1979 was chosen for further evaluation based the
production of a large decolorization zone in the azo dye
containing plates. The strain was maintained on slants of
Nutrient Agar. The identification of Bacillus spp. ETL-
1979 was based on standard morphological and
biochemical methods as described by Benson (1985), and
16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. Genomic DNA was
obtained according to Ausubel et al. (1989). The 16S
rRNA gene was amplified by PCR using the bacteria
specific primers, 27f and 1401r [29].
2.2. Identification
Screening of the strains for dye decolorization was
performed by enrichment culture technique using NM9
and DNM9 media as described by Hong et al. After
purification by successive single colony isolation on a
DNM9 agar plate, strain ETL-1982 was identified by
carbon source utilization patterns using Biolog GN2
microplate (Biolog, USA) and the analysis of 16S rDNA
sequences. For the 16S rDNA sequence analysis, bacterial
genomic DNA was extracted and purified using a Wizard
Genomic DNA Prep. Kit (Promega Corp., Madison). Two
primers annealing to the 5` and 3` end of the 16S rRNA
gene were 5`-GAGTTTGATCCTGGCTCAG-3`
(positions 9 to 27 (Escherichia coli 16S rDNA
numbering)) and 5`-AGAAAGGAGG TGATCCAGCC-3`
(positions 1542 to 1525 (E. coli 16S rDNA numbering)),
respectively. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was
performed as follows: pre-denaturation at 95°C for 5 min,
30 cycles at 95°C for 40 s, 55°C for 40 s and 72°C for 2
min. The PCR product was subcloned into pGEM-T easy
vector (Promega, Madison, USA) and its nucleotide
sequence was determined by Banglore Genei Ltd.
(Banglore, India). The partial rDNA sequences were
analyzed using a BLAST search algorithm to estimate the
degree of similarity to other rDNA sequences obtained
from the NCBI/GenBank. Phylogenetic trees were
constructed by the ClustalX program [48]. Physiological
characteristics were determined according to the
procedures outlined in Bergey`s Manual of Determinative
Bacteriology [46].
2.3. Dye Decolorization
Decolorization experiments for each dye were
performed by growing Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 in 500 mL
Erlenmeyer flasks containing 350 mL of sterile MM
supplemented with 100 mg L
-1
of dyes plus the indicated
carbon source. Cultures were first incubated under static
conditions to provide conditions of oxygen limitation, at
30°C, for the indicated times, until decolorization was
complete. All cultures were then aerated by stirring for
140 h without any further supplementations to the medium.
Dye decolorization was evaluated by measuring the
change in absorbance between 200 and 800 nm with a
Shimadzu 1800 UV-visible spectrophotometer in the static
and aerobic stages. Preparation of enzyme extract Bacillus
spp. ETL-1979 was grown in 500 mL Erlenmeyer flasks
containing 350 mL of sterile MMR, containing 100 mg L
-1

dyes and inoculated with a 3% by volume culture of
Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 previously grown for 24 h in
MMR without dyes. Samples were harvested and the cells
were sonicated with 5 seconds pulses separated by 2
minutes intervals repeated 6 times. The sonicated cells
were then centrifuged at 18,000 x g for 20 min, to remove
cell debris, and the supernatant was used as the source of
enzyme. Determination of enzyme activity Tyrosinase
enzyme activity was assayed as described by Kamahldin

18 American Journal of Microbiological Research
and Eng (2003). Tyrosinase activity was determined using
0.1 mL of 1mM tyrosine solution (1 M phosphate buffer at
pH 7) as substrate, 0.6 mL of the enzyme preparation and
0.3 mL of distilled water in a final volume of 1 mL. The
oxidation of tyrosine to dihydroxyphenylalanine was
monitored spectrophotometrically by measuring the
increase in absorbance at 280 nm. One unit of tyrosinase
activity was equal to a Δ280nm of 0.001 per min at pH 7.0
at 25°C in a 1.0 mL reaction mix containing 1mM tyrosine
solution. Laccase activity was assessed using 0.1 mL of
0.5 mM syringaldazine solution in ethanol (due to its
limited solubility in aqueous solutions) as substrate, 0.2
mL of 0.05 M citrate phosphate at pH 5, 0.6 mL of
enzyme preparation and 0.1 mL of distilled water in a
final volume of 1 mL [47]. The oxidation of
syringaldazine was monitored spectrophotometrically at
525 nm. Peroxidase activity was monitored using the same
substrate used for laccase with 0.1 mL of 2mM hydrogen
peroxide solution instead of distilled water. All enzyme
assays were run in triplicate. High performance liquid
chromatography mass spectrometry analysis (HPLC-MS)
The biodegradation products of azo dye RR198 produced
by Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 in MMR were analyzed by
HPLC-MS. Culture samples were centrifuged (18,000 ×g
for 20 min) and filtered through a 0.25 μm pore size filter.
Aliquots of 25 μL were injected into a HPLC-MS system
consisting of an HPLC system (Waters, USA) coupled to
a mass spectrometer with hybrid quadrupole (Q) and time-
of-flight (ToF) mass analyzers from Micromass (Waters,
USA), with an electrospray source interface (LC-ESI-MS-
MS). Instrument control and data processing were carried
out by Masslynx 4.0 software. The mobile phase
components used were degassed in an ultrasonic bath
before use in the LC system. A Varian reverse phase C18
HPLC column (150 ×2.1 mm, 5 μm particle size) was
used to separate the biodegradation products. The column
temperature was set at 25°C. The mobile phase was
composed of water and methanol, using gradient elution.
The gradient elution profile, using a flow rate of 0.2 ml
min-1, consisted of (in percent by volume; duration (min))
water (100; 30), water: methanol (50:50; 3), ending with
methanol (100; 2). The quadrupole analyzer was
programmed to select ions with m/z in the range from 50
to 1200 u. The ionization conditions selected were: cone
gas flow (150 L h-1), desolvation gas flow (350 L h-1),
polarity (ESI+), capillary energy (2900 V), sample cone
energy (30 V), extraction cone energy (2.0 V), desolvation
temperature (350°C), source temperature (120°C),
ionization energy (2.0 V), collision energy (4 V), and
multi-channel plate detector energy (2700 V). Tentative
identification of the metabolites from azo dye
biodegradation was obtained by comparing the acquired
mass spectra to spectra in the MS Database using the
Cambridge SoftChem Office 2008 program. TOC
measurement The change in organic carbon of the
biotreated azo dye cultures was monitored by measuring
the Total Organic Carbon (TOC) using a TOC analyzer
(Shimadzu 5000A) as previously described in [16,17].
2.4. Toxicity Test
Daphnia magna is a commonly used bioindicator test
aquatic organism in acute and chronic toxicity studies of
chemical compounds present in aquatic ecosystems
(USEPA 1985). The acute toxicity tests using D. magna
were carried as previously described [16,17].
3. Results
3.1. Characterization & Isolation
Isolate ETL-1979 was initially isolated from activated
sludge from a textile plant wastewater treatment facility
based on its ability to produce large zones of
decolorization around colonies grown on nutrient agar
containing 100 L
-1
of various azo dyes. The 16S rRNA
gene sequence of the ETL-1979 strain was determined and
compared with 16S rRNA gene sequences in the Genbank
nucleotide databases. The ETL-1979 strain was
phylogenetically positioned in the genus Bacillus (Figure
3). The nucleotide alignment of the partial 16S rRNA gene
sequence of this strain had identity values of 98 to 99%,
with different Bacillus strains.
3.2. Decolorization Assays
The ability of Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 to decolorize
four azo dyes Reactive Yellow 107, Reactive Red 198 ,
Reactive Black 5 , and Direct Blue 71 was evaluated in a
static/ agitated sequential batch process as described in
methods. Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 could decolorize the
dyes efficiently only when the medium was supplemented
with carbon sources (data not shown). The medium that
promoted the most rapid and efficient decolorization
(>95%) under static conditions for all azo dyes was MM
containing 3g L
-1
glucose and 1g L
-1
sodium pyruvate
(MMR) and this medium was used for all subsequent
experiments for determining enzyme activities,
degradation products and toxicity reduction. When sodium
pyruvate was substituted by yeast extract (1g L
-1
) a similar
rate of decolorization was observed. When glucose alone
was added at a concentration of 1 or 3 g L
-1
the rate of dye
decolorization was reduced resulting in only 30 and 50%
color removal after 168 h, respectively (data not shown).
In MMR the monoazo dyes (RY107 and RR198) were
decolorized to their maximum extent after 96 and 120 h
respectively, while the more complex diazo RB5 and
triazo DB71 dyes required 144 to 168 h, respectively, for
maximum decolorization (Table 1). Subsequent aeration
via stirring for a period of 168 h resulted in greater than
99% decolorization of all dyes being. (Table 1).
3.3. Enzyme Activities Determination
The activities of the oxidoreductase enzymes
(peroxidase, laccase and tyrosinase) were measured during
the decolorization process in MMR. Static conditions
were maintained until complete decolorization occurred as
indicated in Table 1. This was followed by an aeration
phase for and additional 168h. In the static and stirring
conditions laccase and peroxidase activities were very low
and likely did not play much of a role in dye
decolorization/degradation. However, tyrosinase activity
was observed both under static and aerated conditions
(Figure 1). Under static conditions the activity increased
until decolorization was complete and then decreased over
of time for all dyes. Following initiation of aerated
conditions the tyrosinase activity increased again for all
dye cultures.

American Journal of Microbiological Research 19
Table 1. Azo dye decolorization by Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 under static and aerobic conditions in the presence of 100 mg L
-1
of aze dyes and 3 g
L
-1
glucose and 1g L
-1
pyruvate
Decolorization time (h) Decolorization (% of uninoculated control)
Dyes Static Static Aerobic
RY 107 96 ±1 98 ±0.5 99 ±0.3
RR 198 120 ±2 97 ±0.2 99 ±0.4
RB 5 144 ±2 95 ±0.3 99 ±0.2
DB71 168 ±3 94 ±0.1 99 ±0.5

Figure 1. Time course of tyrosinase activity in Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 cultures during biodegradation of azo dyes

Figure 2. UV-vis spectra of the azo dyes – Before (straight line) and after microaerophilic (dashed line) and aerobic (dotted line) treatments – A: RY
107; B: RR198; C: RB5; D: DB71
3.4. UV–Vis Characterization
As shown in Figure 2(a-d), virtually complete
decolorization of all four azo dyes occurred under static
conditions as shown by the disappearance of, the
absorbance peaks in the visible region (390 to 750 nm). In
the UV spectra of samples taken during static conditions,
the absorbance observed in the 280-350 nm absorption
profiles of all of the dyes diminished and were replaced by
a new peak at 260 nm, which then either increased or
diminished, depending on the dye, under aerated
conditions.
3.5. HPLC-MS Analyses of RR198 Dye
Biodegradation Products
The biodegradation products of the RR198 dye
produced under static and aerated conditions were

20 American Journal of Microbiological Research
analyzed by HPLC-MS for tentative identification of the
unknown compounds. Out of forty possible compounds
identified as metabolites from RR198 dye biodegradation
only three had good matches to structures clearly
consistent with the structure of RR198 (data not shown).
These tentatively identified degradation products indicate
that RR198 was cleaved at the azo bond as well as the
amine bond between the naphthalene group and triazenic
ring and at one of the sulfonate bonds producing the
identified compounds 4-chloro-N-o-tolyl-1,3,5-triazin-2-
amine; sodium 4-aminonaphthalene-2-sulfonate and 3,6-
dimethyl-7-(o-tolyldiazenyl) naphthalen-1-amine.

Figure 3. Phylogram(neighbor-joining method) showing genetic relationship between strain ETL-1979 and other microorganisms based on the 16S
rRNA gene sequence analysis
3.6. Toxicity Test and TOC Reduction
The TOC of the medium was 2000 mg L-1 with the
portion attributable to the azo dyes equal to 60 mg L
-1
.
After decolorization (data not shown) under
microaerophilic (static) conditions the TOC was reduced
from between 65% to 82% for all dyes, and after
susequent aeration, for an additional 168 h, the TOC was
further reduced (Table 2). The extent of the reduction in
TOC demonstrates that the carbon sources were being
consumed during the dye degradation process in both the
static and aerobic phases. The results for Daphnia magna
toxicity tests are presented as the percentage of death in
the presence of samples taken from the static and stirring
treatments compared to controls composed of the dye
culture medium without bacterial treatment. The tests
were carried out in a 1:4 dilution of the original
supernatant concentration because 100% mortality
occurred in the undiluted and 1:2 diluted dye media. The
uninoculated controls showed mortality between 40 to
47% at a dilution of 1:4. Samples taken from static
cultures had mortality values much lower for all the dyes
(≤ 13%), and samples from stirred cultures had no
detectable toxicity for any dyes.
Table 2. Mortality of Daphnia magna exposed to a 1:4 dilution of
culture supernatants containing azo dyes and the % TOC removal
after incubation with Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 under static and
aerobic conditions
Dyes Mortality (%)* TOC reduction (%)**
Control Static Aerobic Static Aerobic
RY107 40 9 0 75 87
RB5 40 13 0 70 83
RR198 47 10 0 82 85
DB71 47 13 0 65 76
*S.D. ±11% for all the date.
**S.D. ±2% for all the date.
4. Discussion
Based on the biochemical tests performed in this study,
strain ETL-1979 was identified as Bacillus due to the
differentiating characteristic in the oxidase test (Table 1).
However, several reclassifications have been made and the
genus has been restricted to those bacteria with a close
resemblance to the type species B. linens based on 16S
rRNA gene sequence analysis and DNA-DNA
hybridization experiments; twelve species are currently

American Journal of Microbiological Research 21
classified in this genus [13]. Bacillus spp. ETL-1979
completely decolorized four azo dyes (Reactive Yellow
107, Reactive Red 198, Reactive Black 5 and Direct Blue
71) in a static/agitated sequential process only in the
presence of a carbon source (glucose, pyruvate or yeast
extract). In these experiments MMR, containing 3 gL
-1

glucose and 1 gL
-1
pyruvate as carbon sources, produced
the best results. However, yeast extract, which has been
the most commonly used a nutrient additive for dye bio-
decolorization processes [40] could be substituted for
pyruvate with similar results. Previous studies have shown
that pyruvate is able to enhance the degradation of
aromatic compounds [8]. Azo bond reduction of the azo
dye amaranth by Shewanella decolorationis S12 was most
effective using lactate or formate as electron donors, while
pyruvate also increased the reduction of amaranth but to a
lesser extent [21]. The chemical structures of the dyes also
influence the decolorization rates [39]. Dyes with simple
structures and low molecular weights usually exhibit
higher rates of color removal, whereas color removal is
less efficient with highly substituted and higher molecular
weight dyes. Consistent with these observations, Bacillus
spp. ETL-1979 required 96 h to decolorize the mono azo
dye RY107 (the least substituted and least structurally
complex dye used in this study) in comparison to 120 h
for the highly substituted mono azo dye RR198, and 144 h
for the diazo dye RB5 and 168 h for the triazo DB71.
Induction of tyrosinase activity for all dyes under static
conditions for up to 96-120 h suggests this enzyme was
involved in the decolorization process. In addition, under
aerated conditions, the activity also increased and
remained increased for the entire 168 h aeration period
suggesting that tyrosinase could be involved in further
biodegradation of the decolorized azo dye metabolites as
well. In contrast, significant peroxidase or laccase activity
was not detected. In recent studies, induction of the
oxidative enzymes lignin peroxidase, laccase and
tyrosinase was observed during the decolorization of
sulfonated azo dyes by the bacteria P. desmolyticum and
an Exiguobacterium sp. [10,25,26,]. While in another
report on dye decolorization by Comamonas sp. UVS, the
induction of laccase and lignin peroxidase was observed
but tyrosinase activity was not [50]. Phenol oxidases,
which can be divided into tyrosinases and laccases, are
oxidoreductases that can catalyze the oxidation of
phenolic and other aromatic compounds without the use of
cofactors [12,31]. Tyrosinases use molecular oxygen to
catalyze two different enzymatic reactions: (I) the ortho-
hydroxylation of monophenols to o-diphenols
(monophenolase, cresolase activity) and (II) the oxidation
of o-diphenols to o-quinones (diphenolase, catecholase
activity) [49,30]. However, aromatic amines and o-
aminophenols have also been recognized as tyrosinase
substrates that undergo similar ortho-hydroxylation and
oxidation reactions [9,18]. In addition, oxidation products
of tyrosinase can be further converted into heavier
oligomeric species [11]. Under static conditions the UV–
Vis spectroscopy demonstrated a decrease in absorbance
between 280–350 nm (consistent with substituted benzene
and naphthalene compounds) was observed for all dyes,
with the corresponding formation of a new peak at 260 nm.
The decrease in the absorbance of the peak between 280–
350 nm and the formation of a new peaks at 260 nm
suggest that there were changes to substituents on the
aromatic groups, consistent with azo bond cleavage and
other transformational changes to the aromatic structure.
Aromatic amine spectra show extensive structure in the
260–300 nm range, and removal of absorption in the
visible range and the production of absorption peaks
around 260 nm has been observed with azo dyes
chemically reduced with sodium sulfide and after their
biological reduction with activated sludge under anaerobic
conditions. The peaks at 260 nm can be associated with
the presence of oxidized aromatics such as phenolic and
naphthoquinone compounds [35,22]. In addition, the
absorbance peak at 260 nm can be attributed to the
absorption by diketones [28]. These compounds may be
generated during bacterial degradation after cleavage of
aromatic rings under aerobic conditions. After subsequent
aeration the absorbance in the 260 region increased for the
mono azo dye RY107 and for the highly substituted mono
azo dye RR198, while the absorbance in this region
decreased for the diazo dye RB5 and 168 h for the triazo
DB71. The reason for this difference may be due to
differences in the rates of transformation of the
decolorized products during this phase. The increase in
absorbance in the 260 nm region for RY107 and RR198
may then be attributable to a greater rate of additional
transformation to intermediate products with absorbance
in this region, resulting in their accumulation at greater
rate than that for the other dyes. The biodegradation
products of the RR198 dye were analyzed by HPLC-MS
for tentative identification of the unknown metabolites.
Between possible compounds of the biodegradation
RR198 azo dyes, three had reasonable matches in relation
to metabolites presents in the sample: 4-chloro-N-o-tolyl-
1,3,5-triazin-2-amine; sodium 4-aminonaphthalene-2-
sulfonate and 3,6-dimethyl-7-(o-tolyldiazenyl) naphthalen-1-
amine. After aerobic conditions the concentration of these
metabolites was reduced indicating they were degraded
further. The formation of these products would require the
cleavage of azo bonds and sulfonate bonds. Cleavage of
both the azo bond and the sulfonate bond was observed
with the degradation of the diazo dye Reactive blue 172
by Exiguobacterium sp. RD3 (isolated from the dyestuff
contaminated soil), which also expressed lignin
peroxidase and laccase activity during the degradation
process [10]. In addition to decolorization and degradation
of the azo dyes, Bacillus spp. ETL-1979 also dramatically
reduced the toxicity of the dye solutions after the static
phase of incubation. Moreover, subsequent aeration of the
static cultures further reduced toxicity below detectable
levels. The present study demonstrates that Bacillus spp.
ETL-1979 has the potential to decolorize and degrade
toxic azo dyes to nontoxic products. The detection of
tyrosinase activity throughout static and stirred stages
indicates tyrosinase was involved in the biodegradation of
the azo dyes. The addition of carbon substrates in the form
of glucose, pyruvate or yeast exact was required for efficient
decolorization indicating the dyes may be being used as
terminal electron acceptors during their degradation.
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